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Book Notes: England's Jewish Solution: Experiment and Expulsion, 1262-1290, Robin Mundill

Edgar Samuel

<plain_text><page sequence="1">England's Jewish Solution: Experiment and Expulsion, 1262-1290, Robin Mundill (Cambridge University Press, 1998) ISBN 0-521-56158-8. This book is of major importance. H. S. G. Richardson's The English Jewry under Angevin Kings took the history of England's medieval Jewry only to the end of the reign of King John, although it did contain a valuable discussion of the 1290 expulsion. This book deals with the history of Edward I's relationship with his Jewish subjects from his early years, when his father was king, through to their cruel expulsion by him. During this period the Jews lived under two very hostile kings who, believing that the Jews murdered Christian children and had crucified Little St Hugh, subjected them to very heavy taxation and to oppressive treatment. For that very reason, this is the most fully documented period of medieval Anglo-Jewish history and different authors have published detailed studies of it. The present book pulls them all together with a general discussion and an overview. Although it is full of detail, the narrative is clear and readable. I do not agree with all of Dr Mundill's opinions. Dr James Parkes made the point that when bishops tried to enforce the decrees of the Fourth Lateran Council by ordering the Jews about or prohibiting the opening of synagogues, they had no power to implement their orders. This ability belonged solely to the king and his sheriffs. I have always thought that Vivian Lipman was right in deducing that deals recording advance purchases of wool and wheat crops by Jews, after usury was declared illegal, were simply concealed money-lending contracts, such as the Italian merchants had used for years. Dr Mundill's view, 330</page><page sequence="2">Book Notes which he argues persuasively, is that these bonds show that when the king for? bade usury, the Jews switched to trading in wheat and wool. However, because this book analyses the background and causes of the expulsion of 1290, it is a must for anyone seriously interested in the history of the Jews in England. Edgar Samuel</page></plain_text>